U.S. airlines are doing better at staying on schedule than a year ago, but more passengers are filing complaints against the carriers.
Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines topped the on-time rankings for November, which were released Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Budget airlines Spirit and Frontier had the worst on-time performance and highest complaint rates.
The department said that flights on the 13 largest airlines arrived on time 83.7 per cent of the time. That was up from 80.6 per cent in November 2014 but down from last October’s 87 per cent rate.
Passengers on five domestic flights were stuck on the ground for more than three hours, and people sat on a Qatar Airways plane in Detroit for more than six hours, all in possible violation of federal rules. The department said it was investigating the incidents.
Complaints against U.S. airlines rose 56 per cent from a year earlier. Still, only 989 people — a tiny percentage of passengers — bothered to file a report with the government. Complaints about foreign airlines rose 14 per cent.
SkyWest, which operates regional flights for the major airlines, and Southwest had the lowest complaint rates. Spirit had the highest complaint rate by a wide margin.
More people — 1,272 — complained about Transportation Security Administration screeners than about the airlines. The Transportation Department said, however, that it was not appropriate” to compare the figures because “thousands” of travellers complain directly to the airlines but never contact the government.